Jonathan Scales Interview for Jazz and the Brandenburg Concertos

Link to original audio on CSUMB  Digital Commons Jonathan Scales Interview by Bob Danziger, 2019

Jonathan Scales Interview edited 10-3-19

  • Bob D. I had a chance to listen to your new record quite a bit and, you know, getting to know Jeff Jones quite a bit and enjoying his company and the job he’s doing out hereas the new Chair of the Music Department at Cal State Monterey Bay.  This interview is for Cal State Monterey Bay.  We have an archive of interviews of musicians that we’re establishing and then I’m also teaching a class, Jazz and the Brandenburg Concertos, in a couple of weeks. I was listening to [Jonathan Scales song] The Mouse.  And I’m thinking, this certainly reminds me of having a strong Brandenburg influence. I asked Jeff Jones, [who plays on the record and is also friend and Mentor to Jonathan] and I guess he texted you. And you wrote back that the first record you bought was the Brandenburg.  Did I get that kind of right?
  • Jonathan Scales – Yes, that’s very true.
  • Bob D. – And when did you first encounter the Brandenburg?  Why did you buy that record?
  • Jonathan Scales – I first encountered that when I was in the ninth grade. I was a freshman in high school.  I was living in Germany.  I was going to an American school in Germany. and I don’t know.  We went to the little shop which was on the American base, and my mom said I could pick out a CD.  That’s the one that I gravitated towards. I was really into classical music like Mozart and things like that.  I was kind of intrigued by it and didn’t know anything about the Brandenburg concertos.  It just seemed interesting, and I got it.  I listened to it a lot when I was a freshman in high school.
  • Bob D. – That’s really interesting.  Christian McBride also said he encountered the Brandenburg Concertos in middle school. What city in Germany were you?
  • Jonathan Scales – At that point, I was in the city called Kitzingen. Kitzingen is a small town outside of the bigger city called Wurzburg, and that’s in the south of Germany in what we know as Bavaria.
  • Bob D. – Do you remember which version of the Brandenburg you got, who it was done by?
  • Jonathan Scales – I don’t remember what orchestra it was. All I remember was that the disc was orange.  All I can see in my head is I see the orange disc and, yeah, some company that started with an L. But I wasn’t really concerned–I never even thought of who the orchestra was.
  • Bob D. – Right, yeah.
  • Jonathan Scales – I listened to the recording over and over.
  • Bob D. – Was there one of them you really liked more than others or just sort of the whole package?
  • Jonathan Scales – Well, I usually would listen to it just straight down a lot, and I guess as a younger person–I can’t speak for all younger people, but I liked the fast ones.
  • Bob D. – Right, yeah.
  • Jonathan Scales – I liked all the fast movements. One in particular that sticks out in my head, you know, I’m a horrible singer, but it’s the one that’s like–it’s kind of in three.  That one is amazing.
  • Bob D. – The third one is the one in 6/8.
  • Jonathan Scales – Yep, and that is–that’s an incredible piece of music right there.
  • Bob D. – Do you still listen to the Brandenburg?
  • Jonathan Scales – Sometimes actually. I have a playlist, a streaming playlist on Spotify that has a whole range of different things I like to listen to, and that piece that I mentioned, the thing that’s in 6 or 12, that’s on there.  And I definitely go back and listen to it sometimes because, for one, it brings back a lot of memories of when I was really first getting into composition.  I would just wake up Saturday morning because I didn’t have to go to school–wake up on Saturday morning and just like listen to the album and try to write music.  I have good memories of that.  I can sing all the parts.
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